Dordogne PC Review

Dordogne is a stunning hand-painted story about family and finding out who you are.

By Elysian, Posted 16 Jun 2023

Sometimes a game comes along that catches you off guard in every sense of the word. It has been a long time since I picked up a game and immediately knew that game was too simple of a word to describe it. Dordogne is one of these games; Dordogne is a work of art.

Developed by Umanimation and Un je ne sais quoi, Dordogne is an absolutely stunning game which follows a girl on a mission to rediscover her past. By unlocking long-forgotten memories of her grandmother, a woman she had forgotten the existence of throughout an adolescence where her father kept them apart, she is able to piece together what happened during a Summer which had been lost to time.

The game follows Mimi as she heads to her grandmother Nora's house in Dordogne, France after learning that she had passed away. Dordogne is a department in Southwestern France, named after the river which runs through it. Known for its heritage, environments, arts and culinary traditions, it is a popular summer holiday destination for French tourists, like Mimi, who has traveled to visit her Grandmother from Paris.


Dordogne, PC, Review, France, Hand-painted, Watercolor, Family History, Cinematic, NoobFeed

The opening scenes show Mimi as an adult in her car, texting her father that she needed to know the truth and would not let him keep her from knowing about her grandmother any longer. It was at this point that I knew I was going to be hooked on Dordogne. Somehow, in only a few minutes, the game captured so many unique feelings of sadness and loss and longing for something you didn’t know was missing until it was too late. I am not a particularly emotional person when it comes to video games and it is rare for me to become so instantly attached to a character, but whether it was the droplets of rain rolling down the screen or the determination of a scared girl who was desperate for the truth, it resonated with me in a rare way.

Going into Dordogne knowing very little about its story and atmosphere, the first thing I noticed when loading in was the absolutely stunning graphics. The game is hand painted with watercolors which gives everything an ethereal and dreamlike feeling.

Most of the environments reproduced in the game Dordogne are based on real landscapes, with illustrator and game director Cédric Babouche creating nearly 200 hand-painted watercolors for the game’s decors. The amount of work put into the aesthetics is obvious and has such a huge impact on the beauty of the game. Each place I visited and each room in the house I explored felt like a page in a beautiful storybook. This worked so exceptionally well given Dordogne’s narrative. As I flipped through the pages, taking in exquisite artwork, I dug deeper into the protagonist’s story.

Dordogne, PC, Review, France, Hand-painted, Watercolor, Family History, Cinematic

At certain points in the game, the beauty of the graphics genuinely caught me off guard and it is so lovely to play something where the whole experience builds together into a masterpiece. One chapter (another storybook reference) of the game sees Mimi entering a cave with random marks on the walls. It is only once she is further into the cave that we see these marks and scratches really come together to form one gigantic picture. The detail and care that went into creating this masterpiece without giving it away from the start is so incredible and seeing the image illuminated as one whole picture took my breath away.

Dordogne takes place across two time periods: the present day and one summer from Mimi’s childhood. The shift between the two is seamless, linking each jump to something in the other timeline to help reconnect the memories. There is never any question of how something links as the game explains it in subtle yet clear ways, but it forms seamless threads between the past and present which help tie together the story in a beautiful way.

There are a few core game mechanics, as well as some smaller ones which help build the reality and atmosphere of the world of Dordogne. One of my favorite elements of the gameplay is how tactile everything is. Dordogne is a game for the senses and it emphasizes the importance of sight, sound and touch. From the moment you arrive at Nora’s Dordogne cottage, you are completing actions as Mimi does: unscrewing the back of the letterbox, unlocking the gate, and opening the door. The kayaking mini-games in particular especially stood out to me. Everything from the scenery to the summer vibes and gentle movements of the boat made them so joyful to play. I am personally a big fan of games which put me in the shoes of the character and being the person to turn on a tap or shake the frying pan, not just pointing and clicking but actively taking part, made everything feel so much more real.

Dordogne, PC, Review, France, Hand-painted, Watercolor, Family History, Cinematic

Occasionally trying to complete these simple movements was a bit tricky with the area you need to click within, not reacting to the action. This was never enough to irritate me or to hinder my experience of playing the game in any way, but I can see it affecting the experience of some players.

On top of that, sound and sight are huge components of the game. As chapters progress, you unlock a camera and a tape recorder to capture memories from the days of your youth as they go by. I wish this was an element of the game that was used more. I found there were points where I desperately wanted to capture the view I was looking at but was not able to because of a story beat or just because the camera was unavailable to use. I think it would be really nice to be able to take a photo whenever you want to, perhaps capturing snippets of life with Grandma, as opposed to only being able to photograph the scenery at designated times. The sound recorder was a fun addition to the game and allowed for more customisation of pages in the binder Mimi carries with her, though it is given to characters towards the end of the point where it is usable and, again, could be utilized more.

One of the main mechanics consists of exploring the handpainted world and collecting words. At times these words do little else other than join the other words in your collection; however, others help guide the story. These words dictate the information you share with Grandma and how you react to certain events and help Mimi gauge how she is feeling. They cover everything from whether Mimi feels hungry to how she introduces her grandma to the friend she has met.

Dordogne, PC, Review, France, Hand-painted, Watercolor, Family History, Cinematic

These words can be turned into poetry when creating pages in a binder Mimi is given by her Grandma on her first day at Dordogne. Mimi discovers the binder when sent to find some paper to draw on, instead coming across a green book which she deems as old and therefore not important. This binder also introduces us to the strong relationship between Nora and her late husband, the Grandfather that Mimi does not meet.

The binder allows players to collate things they have gathered on their adventures into a page which summarizes the day, and there is a moment allotted in the majority of chapters for this to be filled in. I thought this was a beautiful way of reflecting on the chapter and what your main takeaways from it were. In particular, choosing three words to create a short poem made me really think about what I wanted my lasting impression of each chapter to be. Alongside this, players can incorporate the photos they have taken, sounds they have captured and stickers they have found while completing the game to decorate the pages.

Dordogne is a short game, though it works well in the context of the story being told. It only took about five hours to complete, which was split over eight story chapters. While I would love the game to be longer and to be able to find out more about Mimi and her family, I think five hours is the perfect amount of time to ensure the story and gameplay elements stay fresh throughout the entire game.

Dordogne, PC, Review, France, Hand-painted, Watercolor, Family History, Cinematic

If you are a fan of narrative, artistic or emotional games, you are going to love Dordogne. It is a beautiful exploration of family ties and how memories can shape you as a person that should be on the wishlist of any wholesome indie game lover.

I would go as far as to say that this is not a game but a masterpiece: meant to be observed and appreciated rather than played with. I did not want to put it down or look away and when it ended, I longed for more of the story. Even going about Mimi’s daily life with her Grandma, however insignificant it may seem in the grand scheme of things, filled me with a pleasant warmth. Umanimation and Un je ne sais quoi should be incredibly proud of the work they have produced, and I look forward to seeing what they come out with next.

Megan Cooke (@mcooke_journo)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Focus Entertainment, UN JE NE SAIS QUOI
Genres: Cinematic
Themes: Hand-Painted, Narrative
Release Date: 2023-06-13

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